Monday, August 7, 2017


Whirlpool µwave

I DON’T NORMALLY write product reviews on the blog. (An exception was my experience with Consumer Cellular and the ZTE conversion box.)

This exercise is about Whirlpool’s WMH31017F* over the range microwave.

The new unit replaced a Whirlpool 1.6 cu foot over the range microwave manufactured in 1998 (!) that finally gave out nearly 17 years after date of manufacturer.

Installation was DIY — the “Y” meaning “son-in-law.”

There were two (2) reasons I opted for the Whirlpool.

One: The unit manufactured in August 1998 lasted until August 2017. That in itself is a great recommendation.

Two: Price. BestBuy had the unit listed for $209, but then when it came time to commit, the price dropped another $50, making it almost the lowest-price unit. (I compared many; put everything on a sortable spreadsheet, and asked the spouse what she thought.)

BestBuy had the box delivered by UPS in short order — it arrived before the expected date.

My Son-In-Law, hereafter SIL, is an industrial engineer (resume upon request) who volunteered — yes, actually volunteered — to help his po’ old father-in-law swap out the over the range microwaves.

I checked with Whirlpool before buying the WMH31017F* unit: is the mounting (on the wall above the range) the same as the old machine? It was not. That put Whirlpool closer to other units in its price range, in particular GE/Hotpoint. I think the Whirlpool has a better overall consumer rating.

ANYWAY, SIL got the old unit dismounted. It had a mounting about the size of the back of the old unit. That, too, came out.

The new unit is both deeper and higher than the old unit. I wasn’t concerned with deeper and I didn’t give enough consideration to height. It caused extra work in the end.

The kitchen has a tile splash guard that rises perhaps 18” above the kitchen countertop. The previous unit’s base was 18.10 inches about the countertop.

Once we read the installation instructions and used — as directed — the templates that came with the new unit, SIL had to drill holes in the ceramic tiles for the new support.

We also had to find something to put behind the new unit near the top of the back of the unit. A piece of the shipping cardboard sufficed to make the wall as “thick” as the tiles-on-the-wall.

SIL put wall anchors into each hole and secured the mounting.

We then put the WMH31017F* on the mounting and secured it with two screws though the cabinet about the unit. Naturally the new unit’s holes were different than the removed unit’s.

    Lesson learned. The two receptacles for the two (2) screws in the top are held in place by two “wings” that spread over the microwave’s top. One was not secured well (poor QA/QC) and it fell into the unit. SIL had to remove maybe a dozen screws before he could get under the unit's skin and remove the screw receptacle. He succeeded, we made certain the wings were fully spread, then SIL reinstalled all the previously removed screws. Fortunately we have both battery and AC drills.

We lifted the unit onto the mounting and discovered that the mounting needed more securing screws. The unit was put on a kitchen island and SIL added more securing screws to the mount.

Once more onto the mounting. The Spouse threaded the power cord through the same hole used by the old unit, making certain the cord didn’t get crimped.

This time was “charm.” The unit was flush to the back; the securing screws from the top went in and were tightened, and the new microwave plugged in.

Rating the INSTALLLATION documentation and templates: Very good.

HOWEVER the User Guide left a lot to be desired.

The Guide several times refers to “the vent grill at the top of the microwave oven.” There is no indication where the “vent grill” is located and here is no indication which two (2) screws must be removed to

    a. Change the charcoal filter
    b. Change the cavity light bulb
A graphic would be appreciated. Why should I need a step ladder to change a filter or bulb. Filter replacement is recommended every 6 months; with that frequency, it should be more easily accessible.

    Fortunately, there is a good video showing how to change the filter. There is another good video that shows how to replace both the cavity bulb and the under-the-unit bulb.

A magnetic screwdriver is recommended. In one of the videos, the tech cautions not to over-tighten the two (2) screws securing the vent grill cover.

The User Guide also is silent about the “Add 30 sec” and “Hold 3 sec” buttons on the control panel.

As a former writer of both commercial and mil-spec documentation I would give the User Guide maybe a C minus; it never would pass muster on the mil-spec side.

Would I recommend the Whirlpool WMH31017F*? Based on my experience with Whirlpool — range and microwave — I think it’s probably as good any; the range works to spec and I trust the microwave also will work to spec. The only question is “for how long.”

If the links fail to work, see to learn how to find/access them. It's a Google problem.

* WMH31017F* where “*” represents the unit’s color, e.g., W=white, S=Stainless, B=black

PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

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